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Nazarbayev Insists on the Importance of Russian Language in Kazakhstan

Friday 6 March 2015

ASTANA (Interfax-Kazakhstan) – President Nursultan Nazarbayev has once again reminded of the importance of studying Kazakh, Russian and English languages.

“Kazakh is the state language we all must learn it and preserve it”, Nursultan Nazarbayev said on Friday in Astana. “The Russian language is the language of integration with our immediate neighbours, the language of interethnic communication.”

“Without the English language, our children will not be able cope in the future. Technology, science and innovation, all will be in English. We think that English should be taught from the first grade”, the President said.

During the Soviet era, all of the Soviet Republics were required to use Russian as their first language. After the collapse of the USSR, all other former Soviet states switched to their native languages in transitions that left many struggling and even migrating. Many ethnic Russians sought support from Russia and moved back to Russia in late 1990s and early 2000s.

Recently, there were several high-profile language-related incidents with passengers on the planes taking on stewardesses for poor knowledge or lack of knowledge of the Kazakh language. Today, Russian is still widely spoken in northern and central Kazakhstan. The president has often called for tolerance, saying Russian-speaking communities should not be discriminated against.

A current state programme has a goal of helping 95% of the people in Kazakhstan speak Kazakh by 2020, while maintaining a command of Russian.

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